Penny’s Piece April 2016

Penny Gaylor Otaki's KCDC councillor
Penny Gaylor
Otaki’s KCDC councillor

I wish to begin my March column by acknowledging Ōtaki Community Board member Colin Pearce who died earlier this month. It is a sad loss for his family and friends, and a sad loss for the wider Ōtaki community.

Colin took his role on the community board very seriously, and was there for the good of the community. That dedication was nothing less than what the Ōtaki community deserves from its elected representatives, and good on Colin for offering his time and commitment to continued grassroots service in his retirement years. My thoughts and best wishes to Colin’s wife Hillary and their family.

I turn my thoughts now to a couple of very good pieces of news for our community, and the Kapiti Coast district.

For those of us who attended the recent Ōtaki Kite Festival we could not help but think it was a great event to showcase Ōtaki Beach, and proudly put on an event that was accessible to families and which intrinsically reinforced our enjoyment of our special landscape and environment.Now thanks to the survey work conducted during the kite flying days, we can say we know it was a hugely beneficial event for Ōtaki.

The estimated 18,000 people attending says the Council’s $23,000 investment was good bang for our bucks. That the survey responses and analysis indicates a whopping 1,701% value added return for that $23,000 investment is staggering.These impressive numbers show a great deal of financial benefit to the Ōtaki community with visitor numbers increasing, and people coming and spending money while they were in Ōtaki.

My thanks and appreciation goes to the kite festival organisers and the multiple teams of volunteers who worked on the kite festival. Well done.

It was a huge relief when I first heard the news that the Council will be able to clear the huge Blue Bluff slip where 45,000 cubic metres earth, rock and debris came off the hillside.

Having seen drone footage of the slip, like many I feared that the removal and clean-up, and repairs needed would be in the millions and beyond the ability of the Council to pay.

This is especially poignant given the current mood of councillors where we are seeking to avoid new spending and putting the spotlight on existing spending by council.

Since the slip happened, Council has been investigating what can be done, what the cost would be, and then is that affordable within the current deteriorating economic climate.

So it was brilliant news that it could be done for around $500,000, with NZTA prepared to pay half of that.

Work has begun, and it will take a couple of months and then we can all return to safe access to the forest park.